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Lee Harrell

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Lee Harrell is the chair of Baker Donelson's Insurance Regulatory Group.

Professional Biography

Overview

Mr. Harrell focuses his practice in the area of insurance with an emphasis on insurance regulatory matters, and is familiar with all lines of insurance including property and casualty, life and annuities, and health and producer licensing.

Mr. Harrell has handled every aspect of approximately 30 receiverships across five states and 21 foreign countries, and has an extensive public and private sector background in all types of insurance regulatory matters, including financial examinations, premium tax issues, market regulation, extraordinary natural disasters, fraud and asset recovery, rate and form filings and traditional change of control filings and proceedings. He also assists clients with data and security breaches.

Mr. Harrell routinely represents clients before insurance departments around the country on regulatory matters like formations, expansions, regulatory actions, rate and form filings.  He also represents insurance agencies and brokers on regulatory matters, and represents and advises clients on legislative matters and public advocacy issues. Mr. Harrell regulatory attends National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) meetings, where he testifies before committees on behalf of clients and advises clients on matters pending before the NAIC. 

Additionally, Mr. Harrell advises clients on reinsurance issues, illegal and/or preferential transfer of assets, federal asset forfeitures, establishment of proof of claims process, adjudication of policy holder claims, and the coordination of state and multi-state guaranty fund issues. When necessary, he coordinates press issues and interviews, assists in negotiations with new carriers assuming the policies of insolvent insurers. He also serves as an expert witness on insurance regulatory duties and responsibilities of insurers and agents.

Prior to joining Baker Donelson, Mr. Harrell worked with the Mississippi Insurance Department (MID) for almost 18 years, first as Special Assistant Attorney and General Counsel, then as Deputy Commissioner and Special Counsel. As Deputy Commissioner for eight years, Mr. Harrell was responsible for managing all aspects of MID operations, including licensing, regulatory approval of transactions, litigation, working with carriers on rate and form filings, served as legislative liaison, financial and market conduct investigations, settlement negotiations, and drafting and promoting MID legislation.

Mr. Harrell managed several MID activities in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, the largest natural disaster in American history. He was principally responsible for the establishment and implementation of several successful mediation programs and the examination of a major national insurer. Mr. Harrell spearheaded the creation of a multi-jurisdictional claim tracking and reporting system, enabling the MID (and others) to effectively monitor the filing and payment of claims and efficiently resolve issues resulting from large scale natural disasters. Mr. Harrell was also lead Department attorney on all rehabilitations and liquidations. As part of those duties he leads multi-jurisdictional asset recovery efforts in all of the liquidations conducted by the Department, resulting in over $170 million in asset recoveries for the estates.

Publications & Speaking Engagements

Mr. Harrell has spoken on insurance topics at numerous industry, government and education conferences. Topics have included: hurricane and disaster recovery, mediation of insurance disputes, ethics in the insurance industry, date security and privacy issues, legislative updates, life insurance, credit scoring and insurance rates, federal versus state regulation, workers' compensation, Medicare Advantage, tort reform, insurance fraud, reinsurance and insolvency issues.

Mr. Harrell has been a panelist and speaker at insurance-related seminars and programs sponsored by the University of Mississippi, University of Alabama Law School, Mississippi College School of Law, University of Southern Mississippi and Mississippi State University.

Representative Matters
  • Represented insurers before state insurance departments on rate and form filings.

  • Advises clients on matters pending before the NAIC. 

  • Represents and advises insurance agents and brokers on insurance regulatory matters.

  • Advises clients on insurance premium tax matters.

  • Assisted clients with data and security breaches.

  • Works with clients on reinsurance matters.

  • Advised two state insurance departments on the implementation of the Affordable Care Act.

  • Represented insurance companies on financial and market conducts exams and special data calls.

  • Advises insurance company clients on the handling of unclaimed property laws and regulations. 

  • Advises and represents on insurance company acquisitions, redomestications, mergers, formations and expansions.

  • Represents clients on insurance-related legislative and public policy matters.

  • Advises clients on campaign donation and finance matters.

  • Consults with clients on governmental contracts and related disputes and challenges.

  • Represented state insurance regulator in a multi-company, multi-state merger and reorganization involving approximately $1 billion in combined premium writings.

  • Following Hurricane Katrina established the MID Hurricane Katrina Mediation Program and the U.S. Federal Court Mediation Program, which streamlined the claims handling process and resolved thousands of claims quickly and satisfactorily without lengthy and expensive litigation.

  • Advises clients on insolvency matters. 

  • Supervised over 100 multi-jurisdictional proceedings in the insurance company receiverships, including mediations, negotiated confidential settlements, and representation of the MID in federal and state criminal proceedings, leading to over 16 criminal convictions.

  • Served as hearing officer and/or represented the MID in hundreds of proceedings, including rule-making procedures, licensure revocations, insolvency disputes, reinsurance matters, mutualizations efforts and the residual insurance market appeals before the MID.

  • Served as counsel in numerous multi-million dollar company formations, Form A proceedings, acquisitions, re-domestications, restructurings and licensure issues.

  • Testified before the U.S. House of Representatives on the abuses and failures of the Medicare Advantage Program.
  • Testified before committees of the Mississippi Legislature and the NAIC on behalf of clients. 

  • Originated the plan for the MWUA to successfully obtain a $50 million federal grant, resulting in significant reductions in proposed property rate increases, making Mississippi the first state to receive a federal grant to subsidize its residual market.

  • Served as the Mississippi Insurance Department representative at board meetings of the following entities: MWUA, Assigned Risk Workers' Compensation Program, Torts Claim Board, Insurance Guaranty Association and Life, Accident and Health Insurance Guaranty Association.

Professional Honors & Activities
  • Member – International Association of Insurance Receivers
  • Member – Mississippi Bar Association
  • Member – Advisory Board of Directors for Mississippi State University Risk Management and Insurance School
  • 2018 Insurance Hall of Fame Inductee, Mississippi State University Risk Management and Insurance School
Publications
Speaking Engagements
  • Moderator – "Legislative Update," Mississippi State University Insurance Day (April 5, 2017)
  • Moderator – "Ethical Issues From The Perspective of an Agent and a Company Representative," Mississippi State University Insurance Day (April 5, 2017)
  • Moderator – "Flood Panel Discussion-Issues and Updates in Flood Insurance," Mississippi State University Insurance Day (April 5, 2017)
  • Panelist – "Property and Casualty Insurance Issues," Mississippi State University Insurance Day (April 5, 2017)
  • "Ethics in the Changing Insurance Environment," Mississippi State University Insurance Day (March 2014)
  • Panelist – "To Catch a Thief: The Rise and Fall of Marty Frankel," International Association of Insurance Receivers (June 2013)

Education

  • Mississippi College School of Law, J.D., 1991
  • University of Southern Mississippi, B.S., 1988

Admissions

  • Mississippi, 1991

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